Your Signature is Your Handshake
One day I was in Walter's office, and we got discussing the history of Carolyn Davis, and he smiled, took out a clean piece of paper, and started writing on it with a red ball-point pen. "Look at this," he said, and turned the paper around so I could read it. There it was!
Walter himself had created not only the person, but also her signature!
I remember the first time I signed a direct mail letter. It was a mailing to elementary teachers that I had cooked up for Grolier Enterprises called the Peter Possum Book Club. I suddenly was known by name to tens of thousands of teachers and hundreds of thousands of students. I was famous! More to the point, because my name was on the letter (and later on the newsletter Who's Mailing What!), it meant that I damn well had to be scrupulously honest in every aspect of dealing with my customers, and the publications I offered had to be the best I was capable of creating.
Fast-forward 40 years. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sends out letters to the families of service men and women killed in the Iraq debacle. By signing his name, he reaches out and touches people, offering a deeply felt, personal message of comfort amidst confusion, terrible grief and financial uncertainty. From "Rumsfeld's Rules: Advice on government, business and life," which appeared in The Wall Street Journal several years ago:
"Strive to make proposed solutions as self-executing as possible. As the degree of discretion increases, so too do bureaucracy, delay and expense."
So instead of personally signing the letters, Rummy orders these mailings to be sent out by a clerk who uses an auto-pen to forge his signature. He was caught at it, skewered, and rightly so. His actions dishonor the trust President Bush placed in him, and are a disservice to our brave men and women in uniform and all patriotic, caring Americans.